The Hand I’ll Never Forget: James Woods' Massive Bad Beat Jackpot
It’s the hand that put you over the top. Or the two cards you held that time you were rivered for a monster pot. Everyone has “the hand,” that one that you remember no matter how many more tournaments or cash games played. PokerNews takes a look at those hands that stick with players and relive the glory, or misery, depending on the results.
Actor James Woods has appeared in movies like Casino, Ghosts of Mississippi, Salvador, and even appeared in television shows like the Simpsons, Family Guy, and recently was the voice of Lex Luthor in the Justice League Action cartoon series. He’s also a heck of a poker player, and one hand several years back sticks out in his mind – not necessarily for the stakes, but for the crazy ending.
Eager for some poker, Woods jumped into a low-stakes no limit hold’em cash game in Connecticut’s Foxwoods Casino with hopes of a big payday beyond just the table limits.
“My friends were all laughing at me because it was a $1/2 table,” he says. “The reason I was playing there is that they had a huge bad beat jackpot. You had to lose with four eights or better, and I kiddingly offered one of my guys half my action because I bought in for like $200 or something. And as he was walking out he laughingly said no.”
That turned out to be a poor decision. Soon after his friend walked away, Woods was dealt on the button and called a raise to $7 from one player in middle position. The player in the small blind raised to $35. The original raiser folded, but Woods made the call.
“I literally almost folded,” he said. “It was such an overbet I was sure he had two aces.”
The flop brought . His opponent made a bet of $20 and Woods called. Woods said he made sure not discuss the possibility of the bad beat jackpot after the flop because that would have invalidated the jackpot. The on the turn gave Woods the straight flush. Both players decided to check.
“Put an ace out there,” Woods said to the dealer as the river was dealt.
Sure enough, the last ace in the deck, the , indeed fell on the river.
“Then he did an odd thing,” Woods says. “He bet $20. I was so afraid he would muck his hand I just called. Four days before when this happened a lady mucked a straight flush into a royal flush because she didn’t know about the bad beat jackpot.”
Woods told his opponent to make sure he showed his hand, which did turn out to be the quad aces. The straight flush won the pot, but there was a much bigger payday. The total in the bad beat jackpot? $488,000.
Everyone at the table was thrilled. The player who lost the hand took home $244,000. Woods pocketed $122,000 and each player seated at the table won about $17,000. The story has a few more unique caveats.
“What was interesting is that a guy had just gotten up and left, and another guy said to his wife, who was at the table, ‘Hey honey let’s go,’” Wood says.
The woman said she was only going to play three more hands until her big blind, and so she stayed in the game. That decision brought her a five-figure score.
“The second thing that happened that was really weird was that the new guy who sat down was under the gun and thought he was the big blind and posted the money,” Woods said. “The dealer told him he wasn’t the big blind and gave him his bet back.”
The player responded that he was feeling lucky and was going to go ahead post before the cards were even dealt – assuring that he would be dealt cards immediately. Had he not, the cards would have been dealt differently and the jackpot would have been missed.
“He posted under the gun, which nobody would ever do, but for some reason he posted and if he hadn’t have done that we wouldn’t have won it,” Woods says. “It was really nice because the guy who lost the hand wasn’t a wealthy man at all, just a struggling poker player. And he bought his mom a house, which was really nice.”
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